For the sake of full disclosure, I did not like CBS’s Supergirl trailer. With a heavier dose of Devil Wears Prada than CW’s The Flash, the trailer pulled criticism by being compared to Saturday Night Live’s Black Widow parody trailer mocking the idea of how a female-centric superhero show could be nothing more than a sappy romcom.
Before you go ahead, however, do note that minor (and maybe major) spoilers lay in wait in the following review.
With the pilot having just been released though, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s really not too bad. While the whole “girls can be heroes, too” theme gets a little heavy handed (seriously, if the audience choose to watch a show called Supergirl, they probably already agree with that idea), the rest of the show works incredibly well when the presence of the “girl finding her place in the world” tone is diluted.
Melissa Benoist, being the second Glee actor to don the tights for DC after The Flash’s Grant Gustin (that finalé, OH MY GOD!), maintains the tough demeanour known of the character, while bringing more of a lovable tone that has been largely missing since Linda Danvers was written out of continuity in the comics.
While Supergirl seems to have fallen for the old “a female hero needs female villains” shtick with the introduction, this has given the writers the opportunity to introduce an unnamed female villain who may be an original character (though my money’s on her being either Ursa or Faora) played by Laura Benanti, who also portrays Kara’s mother, Alura.
Calista Flockhart makes her return as a television regular for the first time since 2006’s Brothers & Sisters which ended in 2011. Playing Catherine “Cat” Grant, a character usually seen in Superman comics as a colleague of Clark Kent’s at the Daily Planet, Flockhart channels her inner-ultra bitch with little effort, effectively giving us a glimpse of what it would be like had Ally McBeal hit its 18th season. As unlikeable as she seems, I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in this series.
If there’s anything that now bothers me about the series, it would be that roughly 4 different people (and possibly a whole department in the government) may already know the secret identity of Supergirl. While this has become somewhat of a trend (and gag) on both Arrow and The Flash, I hope it doesn’t become a case where Supergirl slowly becomes defined by the people who know her secret just ‘cause it’s been the norm for lead female characters to be overshadowed by supporting male characters (more on that in the references).
On that note, it may soon become a problem if almost all the supporting characters are from the Superman comics or pastiches of Superman’s supporting characters. While Cat Grant and Jimmy Olsen easily fit in place, I have my doubts regarding Wynn Schott and Hank Henshaw.
A special mention has to be made of how the pilot manages to make references to Superman, even showing him (kinda), without allowing the show to essentially become “The Great Superman Tease ft. His Cousin.”
With DC actually offering quality entertainment on the small screen, it seems likely that Supergirl may actually join the likes of Arrow and The Flash as the beginning of the universe building experience that fans of DC Comics truly deserve. And with Supergirl being produced by Greg Berlanti as well, perhaps a crossover may be more than just possible.
Zor-El & Alura
The parents of Kara Zor-El (and uncle & aunt to Superman), the two became far more prominent characters during the pre-Flashpoint run of Superman and Supergirl comics. While Zor-El himself has been interchangeably portrayed as good and evil, Alura has been mostly portrayed as a leader within the Kryptonian and was even the person behind the re-introduction of (the real) General Zod in the post-Infinite Crisis comics.
A double reference, Supergirl used the name Linda Lee Danvers until 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths which brought about her death. It was also the name of a human girl who was fused with the Matrix Supergirl (a Supergirl from an alternate reality sent to this reality to… y’know what, it doesn’t really matter) and became what is also known as the “white top Supergirl.”
More awesomely however, is that the Danvers here are played by Helen Slater and Dean Cain, the Supergirl of the 1984 film and Superman in 1993’s Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman respectively.
Better known as the Cyborg Superman in the comics, Hank Henshaw was an astronaut whose crew died when exposed to interstellar radiation while in space. Although his wife, who was also part of the crew, survived, Hank’s new ability to command and assimilate with technology unhinged her and caused her to commit suicide. Henshaw, in all of his glorious insanity, blamed Superman for not having saved his crew and later became a cyborg pretend of the Man of Steel during the Reign of the Supermen event.
Boy, do I hope they adapt that arc.
Agent Alex Danvers
HER NAME IS ALEX! She works for a government operation that hunts and keeps track of alien activity! And, HER NAME IS ALEX! She’s totally gonna be Supergirl’s Lex Luthor!
Department of Extranormal Operations
Better known as the D.E.O. the Department of Extranormal Operations first appeared in 1998 and has been the occasional cause of of super villains popping up in the Justice League’s lives. Despite having had heroes like Batwoman, Agent Liberty and Manhunter in their line up, the D.E.O. have committed their fair share of questionable actions and could probably become a bigger pain in Supergirl’s life than she expects.
Having first appeared in 1974, Vartox was from the planet Valeron and was introduced as a friend and ally to Superman. He’s been given a complete overhaul here, not only being portrayed as a villain, but also having his powers, which were pretty much identical to Superman’s, drastically reduced.
Also, the character looked helluva lot like Sean Connery in the comics.
Winslow “Wynn” Schott
Fulfilling the mandatory nice-guy-in-the-friendzone trope required of every show with a female lead, Wynn is in fact Superman villain Winslow Schott, better known as Toyman. A mechanical genius, Toyman has been presented as many different things in his long career. It’s anyone’s guess as to how he’ll come to be a villain in Supergirl but I’m hoping that it isn’t because he keeps getting rejected by Kara…